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05.26.18

Links 26/5/2018: Wine 3.9, KStars 2.9.6, Bodhi 3.8.0, FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 3

Posted in News Roundup at 5:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Dell has a new Developer Edition mobile workstation with Ubuntu, 3 more on way

      If you’re looking for a new mobile workstation based on Linux, Dell has introduced four new Precision Developer Edition models. The Precision 3530 version is available now while the 5530, 7530, and 7730 models are listed as “coming soon.” All four are based on Intel processors and discrete mobile professional graphics provided by AMD and Nvidia.

      With a starting price of $942, the base Precision 3530 configuration defaults to the Intel Core i5-8400H four-core processor, but there are four other options up to the Xeon E-2176M six-core chip. You can also choose to stick with integrated graphics, or Nvidia’s Quadro P600 discrete chip with 4GB of dedicated video memory.

    • Dell introduces 2018 Precision Developer Edition laptops with Ubuntu Linux

      Dell introduced a new line of Precision mobile workstations last month, featuring high-power specs in (relatively) portable packages. Now the company is introducing “developer edition” versions that have the same feature set, but which ship with Ubuntu Linux instead of Windows 10 software.

      The Dell Precision 3530 Mobile Workstation is already available as a developer-edition computer for about $900 and up, and the Precision 5530, 7530, and 7730 will be available in developer editions soon as well.

    • Dell Rolls Out New Precision Developer Laptops With Ubuntu Linux

      If the latest Dell XPS 13 developer edition laptop pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux doesn’t match your needs, Dell has now rolled out several Precision laptop developer editions that also come loaded with Ubuntu LTS.

      The fourth-generation Precision Developer Editions laptops are out with the 3530, 5530, 7530, and 7730 models. These laptops come preloaded with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and are also Red Hat Enterprise Linux certified. Right, for now they are just Ubuntu 16.04 and not the recently introduced Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

  • Server

    • Cumulus Networks Continues to Build on Linux to Enable Next Generation Networking

      Now in 2018, Cumulus’ model of enabling white box networking with a Linux based distribution has increasingly become the norm and along with that shift, Cumulus has become increasingly successful. Cumulus has raised a total of $129 million in funding, including a $43 million Series D round that was announced on Jan. 23.

      In a video interview with EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet at the 2018 OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, Rivers outlines how the company has evolved in recent years and where it is going next.

      “We have help to change the world around with the concept of buying switching hardware and software separately,” Rivers said.

      [...]

      Since the company was created, Linux and specifically Debian Linux has been at the core of the Cumulus Networks, Cumulus Linux networking operating system.

      “One of the benefits of taking that path is you get a whole set of applications that work natively on the platform that people can just pick up and it also keeps us honest,” Rivers said. It’s really easy in this world to take an open-source component hack it up and make it your own, so it forces us to work upstream.”

  • Kernel Space

    • There’s real reasons for Linux to replace ifconfig, netstat, et al

      One of the ongoing system administration controversies in Linux is that there is an ongoing effort to obsolete the old, cross-Unix standard network administration and diagnosis commands of ifconfig, netstat and the like and replace them with fresh new Linux specific things like ss and the ip suite. Old sysadmins are generally grumpy about this; they consider it yet another sign of Linux’s ‘not invented here’ attitude that sees Linux breaking from well-established Unix norms to go its own way. Although I’m an old sysadmin myself, I don’t have this reaction. Instead, I think that it might be both sensible and honest for Linux to go off in this direction. There are two reasons for this, one ostensible and one subtle.

      The ostensible surface issue is that the current code for netstat, ifconfig, and so on operates in an inefficient way. Per various people, netstat et al operate by reading various files in /proc, and doing this is not the most efficient thing in the world (either on the kernel side or on netstat’s side). You won’t notice this on a small system, but apparently there are real impacts on large ones. Modern commands like ss and ip use Linux’s netlink sockets, which are much more efficient. In theory netstat, ifconfig, and company could be rewritten to use netlink too; in practice this doesn’t seem to have happened and there may be political issues involving different groups of developers with different opinions on which way to go.

    • Linux 4.16.12
    • Linux 4.14.44
    • Linux 4.9.103
    • Linux 4.4.133
    • Linux 3.18.110
    • Graphics Stack

      • Igalia Continues Working On Wayland & Accelerated Media Decode In Chromium On Linux

        Months ago we had reported on Igalia’s efforts for improving hardware video/media acceleration on the Chromium browser stack for Linux and getting Chromium ready for Wayland but it’s been relatively quiet since then with no status updates. Fortunately, a Phoronix reader pointed to a fresh round of ongoing work in this space.

        Igalia is working on supporting the V4L2 VDA (Video Decode Acceleration) on the Linux desktop for video/image decode of H.264, VP8, VP9, etc. Up to now the V4L2 VDA support was just used on ARM and under Chrome OS. This is part of the consulting firm’s work on delivering first-rate Wayland support for Chromium — it’s a task they have been working on for quite some time.

      • Radeon GPU Profiler 1.2 Released With RenderDoc Interoperability

        AMD’s GPUOpen group has announced the release of Radeon GPU Profiler 1.2, it’s open-source GPU performance profiler. What’s significant about this release is initial interoperability with the popular RenderDoc debugger.

        Beginning with Radeon GPU Profiler 1.2, there is beta support for allowing a profile be triggered from RenderDoc and for displaying data across the opposite tool along with synchronization between the two utilities.

      • Mir Is Running On Arch Linux; Mir Also Progressing With EGLStreams Support

        Prominent Mir developer Alan Griffiths of Canonical has published his latest weekly update on the status of this Linux display server that continues working on supporting Wayland clients.

        First up, via the UBports community, Mir is now working on Arch Linux after some basic changes and packaging work. So similar to Ubuntu and Fedora and others, it’s now easy to run Mir on Arch Linux if so desired.

      • VK9 – Direct3D 9 Over Vulkan – Hits 26th Milestone

        It’s been a wild week for the various Direct3D-over-Vulkan projects with VKD3D 1.0 being released for the initial Direct3D 12 over Vulkan bits from the ongoing work in the Wine project to DXVK continuing to get better at its D3D11-over-VLK support. There’s also an update on the VK9 front.

  • Applications

    • MX Tools – A year later, the toolbox got better

      Roughly fourteen full phases of the moon ago, I wrote an article on MX Tools, a unique and useful bunch of dedicated utilities packaged with the MX Linux distribution. This toolbox offered the ordinary (or new) MX Linux user a chance to perform some common configuration tasks with easy and elegance.

      In general, MX-16 was a great player, and the recent MX-17 is even better – and at a first glance, so is the new version of MX Tools bundled with the system. Good stuff. So I set about testing, to see what has changed, and in what way this set of utilities has improved, if at all. But I’m positive. Let us commence.

      [...]

      MX Tools turned out to be a predictable gem, just as I’d expected. Well, I’m cheating, because I wrote this article after some rather thorough testing. But then, if you look across the wider spectrum of Linux home distributions, there aren’t that many unique players with distinctive features. Quite often, it’s the rehash of old and familiar with some extra color, polish and rebranding. MX Linux goes the extra mile (or kilometer, if you will) in making the newbie experience meaningfully different.

      Future improvements could potentially include an interactive walkthrough – so users will be actively prompted and helped along in their tasks. Then of course, there’s the matter of visual appearance, in the UI itself. But in general, MX Tools TNG is better than we had before. More elegant, more streamlined, better looking, and most importantly, more practical. This is a good and useful toolbox, and it makes a solid distro even more appealing. Well worth testing. So do it. And take care.

    • Proprietary

      • Opera 54 Browser Enters Beta with News on the Speed Dial, Update & Recovery Menu

        Opera has promoted its upcoming Opera 54 web browser to the beta channel, giving us a glimpse of what to expect from the final version, due for release sometime next month.

        Based on the open-source Chromium 67.0.3396.18 web browser, Opera 54 recently entered beta stages of development with a plethora of new features and improvements, among which we can mention a new Update & Recovery Opera menu page that makes it easier for users to update the web browser and reset it to its default state, including the ability to clear temporary data, such as cookies.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine Announcement

        The Wine development release 3.9 is now available.

      • Wine 3.9 Defaults To OpenGL Core Contexts For D3D, Plumbing For VKD3D

        Wine 3.9 is out as the project’s latest bi-weekly development release. This latest build is certainly on the interesting side of the 3.x series.

        Two days ago marked VKD3D 1.0 being released as the initial version of Wine’s Direct3D 12 over Vulkan translation layer for getting their D3D12 support efforts going. With today’s Wine 3.9 release there is some of the initial plumbing for being able to support VKD3D.

      • Wine 3.9 released adding in the start of Direct 3D 12 over Vulkan support with vkd3d

        Wine 3.9 is now officially out and it’s actually quite an exciting release, especially as it pulls in the recently release vkd3d for Direct 3D 12 with Vulkan.

      • Wine-Staging 3.9 Fixes D3D 10/11 Gaming Performance Regressions

        One day after the exciting Wine 3.9 update with VKD3D work and more, the Wine-Staging code has been updated against this latest development release.

        While since the revival of Wine-Staging earlier this year there has been more than 900 out-of-tree/experimental patches against this Wine branch, with Wine-Staging 3.9 that patch count comes in at 895 patches. It’s great to see with more of the changes working their way into upstream Wine after being vetted while other patches are no longer relevant. Also decided this week is that Wine-Staging developers will rely upon the WineHQ bug infrastructure for handling the submission of new Wine-Staging patches so that the work is much easier to track by users/developers in seeing the status and background on proposed patches for the staging tree.

    • Games

      • The Humble Monthly Bundle just added two great Linux games

        For those that are interested, you can secure a copy of two great Linux games in the current Humble Monthly Bundle.

        Just added today are:

        Get Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!
        Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth

      • SC-Controller 0.4.3 Released, Support Steam Controller & Sony DS4 Over Bluetooth

        For those looking to manage your Steam Controller and other supported Linux gaming peripheral input devices outside of Steam, there is a new release of the independently-developed SC-Controller Linux user-space software.

        While Linux 4.18 is bringing the Steam Controller kernel driver, for those looking for a Steam Controller solution right now to enjoy this excellent gaming controller for now outside of Steam, SC-Controller fills that void.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KStars 2.9.6 is Released!

        I’m glad to announce the release of KStars 2.9.6 for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. This is a minor bugfix release.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Foundation to Receive $1M from Anonymous Donor over Next Two Years

        It’s a great day to be a GNOME developer as someone just pledged to donate $1,000,000 over the next two years to the non-profit GNOME Foundation, the driving force behind the widely-used GNOME desktop environment.

        The donation was made by an anonymous person, though the money will be received by the GNOME Foundation over the next couple of years. Honored by this gesture, the team pledges to use the money to hire more developers and streamline their operations to improve the GNOME desktop environment.

        “We are honored by the trust given to us and will work hard to justify that trust. This particular donation will enable us to support the GNOME project more widely, and tackle key challenges that the free software community faces,” said Neil McGovern, Executive Director of GNOME Foundation.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Eudora saved thanks to open sourcing

    It took the organisation some five years of wrangling with the Eudora’s IP owner Qualcomm, but eventually the once much-loved Mac then more software got given the open source greenlight.

    Eudora was created in 1988 by Steve Dorner while he was working at the University of Illinois. As email started to get big in the world of computing so too did Eudora in the mid-1990s. Qualcomm licensed the software from the University of Illinois and hired Dorner.

  • Top 10 Weirdest Names for Open Source Projects

    In the early stages of developing a new open source project, most developers rarely take the time to think about their future branding strategy. After all, a great idea, top notch code, and a passionate following are the winning formula when you’re getting a project underway.

    However the name you choose for your project can play a role in picking up a loyal following and attracting the curious.

    Names have power. They indicate tone and the intent. They can, if chosen well, inspire and unify action. They’re an important part of a project’s brand and tone of voice.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Katran

    While engineers are likely to implement hardware-based solutions for handling network load balance, Facebook’s scale of operation far outweighed the practicality of hardware load balancing, instead requiring the development of a lightweight software solution. The current result of Facebook’s efforts is its latest open-source release, scalable network load balancer Katran.

  • How Far Is Far Enough?

    Now, a new project from the Memento team holds out the promise of similar optimizations for more generic Web sites. The concept for Memento Tracer is to crowd-source a database of webrecorder.io-like crawls of complex Web sites in a form that can be analyzed to generate abstract templates similar to the platform templates on which LOCKSS plugins are mostly based. [...]

  • Finance

    • American Express Integrates Blockchain To Its Membership Rewards Program

      Financial services corporation American Express (AmEx) has announced a blockchain application to its Membership Rewards program in partnership with online merchant Boxed, Associated Press reported May 23.

      AmEx announced that it is integrating blockchain technology developed by Hyperledger, an open source blockchain project under the Linux Foundation, to let merchants design customized offers for AmEx cardholders in order to increase customer engagement.

    • Interview: Riccardo Spagni co-founder of a new open source blockchain

      South African cryptocurrency expert and lead maintainer of the Monero project Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni has co-founded a new open source blockchain protocol named Tari.

      Tari is being built as a blockchain protocol for managing, transferring, and using digital assets, and is stewarded by a team based in Johannesburg.

      The Johannesburg-based team will work on building a blockchain protocol as a second-layer solution on top of Monero, leveraging the existing cryptocurrency’s security while offering a scalable and dynamic platform for digital assets.

    • CheapAir Ditches BitPay For Open-Source Bitcoin Payments

      Travel and accommodation website CheapAir.com has appeared to choose self-hosted payment processor BTCPay for its Bitcoin payments, shunning industry stalwart BitPay.

      [...]

      Coinbase revealed it was retiring its merchant processing function in April, a move which the cryptocurrency industry condemned for its disruptive consequences.

      BitPay, a processor which along with Coinbase continues to be arguably the best-known option for Bitcoin payments, appeared to miss out on wooing CheapAir, meanwhile, which has offered Bitcoin since 2014 and was the first ever travel agency world-wide to accept bitcoin.

    • Ontology (ONT) Develops its Open-source Triones Consensus System economic model

      The Ontology (ONT) team uses the blockchain technology and the Internet to explore in-depth levels of the information industry. The team’s plans include developing an open-source distributed trust ecosystem called Triones Consensus System that’s based on the Ontology chain network.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Testing GNU FreeDink in your browser

        This is a first version that can be polished further but it works quite well.
        This is the original C/C++/SDL2 code with a few tweaks, cross-compiled to WebAssembly (and an alternate version in asm.js) with emscripten.
        Nothing brand new I know, but things are getting smoother, and WebAssembly is definitely a performance boost.

        I like distributed and autonomous tools, so I’m generally not inclined to web-based solutions.
        In this case however, this is a local version of the game. There’s no server side. Savegames are in your browser local storage. Even importing D-Mods (game add-ons) is performed purely locally in the in-memory virtual FS with a custom .tar.bz2 extractor cross-compiled to WebAssembly.

      • Welcome Punam to the Test pilot team!

        A couple months ago Punam transferred from another team at Mozilla to join the Test Pilot team. Below she answers some questions about her experience and what she’s looking forward to. Welcome, Punam!

        [...]

        Before Mozilla I have worked with SonicWall, eBay and Symantec doing web development.

      • This week in Mixed Reality: Issue 7

        Missed us last week? Our team met in Chicago for a work week. If you had the chance to come and meet us at the CHIVR / AR Chicago meetup, thanks for swinging by. We strategized our short and long term plans and we’re really excited to share what we’re unfolding in the coming weeks.

      • Why bootstrap?

        Over the next few quarters, I’m going to focus my attention on Mozilla’s experimentation platform. One of the first questions we need to answer is how we’re going to calculate and report the necessary measures of variance. Any experimentation platform needs to be able to compare metrics between two groups.

        For example, say we’re looking at retention for a control and experiment group. Control shows a retention of 88.45% and experiment shows a retention of 90.11%. Did the experimental treatment cause a real increase in retention or did the experiment branch just get lucky when we assigned users? We need to calculate some measure of variance to be able to decide.

        The two most common methods to do this calculation are the frequentist’s two-sample t-test or some form of the bootstrap.

        In ye olden days, we’d be forced to use the two-sample t-test. The bootstrap requires a lot of compute power that just wasn’t available until recently. As you can imagine, the bootstrap is all the rage in the Data Science world. Of course it is. We get to replace statistics with raw compute power! That’s the dream!

  • SaaS/Back End

    • OpenStack at a Crossroads

      The OpenStack of a few years ago is dead, however. What has emerged from the hype cycle is a materially different foundation, mission and software stack, with a great deal of change still ahead of it.

    • The OpenStack Foundation grows beyond OpenStack

      The OpenStack Foundation has made a considerable change to its development process and governance structure by introducing two open source projects that are not part of the OpenStack cloud platform.

      This week, the organization launched version 1.0 of Kata Containers – a runtime system with an emphasis on speed and security, enabling users to boot a VM in as little as five seconds – and introduced a brand new project called Zuul, spinning out the software development and integration platform that has been used by the OpenStack community internally since 2012.

  • Databases

    • Oracle nemesis MariaDB tries to lure enterprise folk with TX 3.0

      Open-source database biz MariaDB has upped the ante in its war against Oracle, promising enterprise customers better compatibility with – and easier migration from – Big Red.

      The Finnish firm’s latest offering, MariaDB TX 3.0, released for GA today, extends the number of use cases to include temporal processing and advanced data protection for sensitive and personally identifiable information, as well as Oracle compatibility.

      The broad aim is to tap into customers’ grumbles over legacy vendor lock-in, while convincing the bigger customers that they can move to an open-source database without compromising performance.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Open source networking startup Lumina Networks raises $10 million Series A round from Verizon Ventures

      Open source networking company, Lumina Networks, announced it has raised $10 million Series A funding. The current financing round is led by Verizon Ventures with participation from new investors including AT&T and Rahi Systems. The company plans to use the funding to support the development of new products and innovative solutions using the Lumina SDN Controller powered by OpenDaylight™ and for expansion of business in Europe and Japan.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 3 Brings LLVM Updates, Various Fixes

      For those of you with some extra time over this US holiday weekend due to Memorial Day, FreeBSD 11.2 Beta 3 is now available for testing.

      This third weekly beta release of FreeBSD 11.2 comes with various updates to the LLVM compiler stack, support for setting service types for outgoing RDMA connections via the KRPING utility, fixing a SPARC64 boot issue, and a variety of other bug fixes.

    • FreeBSD 11.2-BETA3 Now Available
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Success for net neutrality, success for free software

      We’ve had great success with the United States Senate voting in support of net neutrality! Congratulations and thank you to everyone in the US for contacting your congresspeople, and all of you who helped spread the word.

      However, it’s not over yet. Here are more actions you can take if you’re in the United States.

      Now that the (CRA) has passed the Senate, it moves to the House of Representatives. Just as we asked you to call your senators, now it’s time to call your House representatives. Find their contact info here and use the script below to ask them to support the reinstatement of net neutrality protections.

      The timing hasn’t been set for future votes and hearings yet, but that’s no reason to wait: make sure your representatives know how you feel.

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 18 new GNU releases!

      artanis-1.2.5
      emms-5.0
      fontopia-1.8.4
      freeipmi-1.6.2
      gama-2.00
      gcc-8.1.0
      gnudos-1.11.4
      gnupg-2.2.7
      gnurl-7.60.0
      guile-cv-0.1.9
      libidn2-2.0.5
      librejs-7.14.1
      linux-libre-4.16.11-gnu
      mcsim-6.0.1
      nano-2.9.7
      octave-4.4.0
      parallel-20180522
      wget-1.19.5

    • Customize GuixSD: Use Stock SSH Agent Everywhere!

      On GuixSD, I like to use the GNOME desktop environment. GNOME is just one of the various desktop environments that GuixSD supports. By default, the GNOME desktop environment on GuixSD comes with a lot of goodies, including the GNOME Keyring, which is GNOME’s integrated solution for securely storing secrets, passwords, keys, and certificates.

      The GNOME Keyring has many useful features. One of those is its SSH Agent feature. This feature allows you to use the GNOME Keyring as an SSH agent. This means that when you invoke a command like ssh-add, it will add the private key identities to the GNOME Keyring. Usually this is quite convenient, since it means that GNOME users basically get an SSH agent for free!

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Open-Source Licensing: Mitigate Your Risk

      Large software companies actively police their rights with license audits and true-up demands. Non-compliance is frequently found, and getting caught flat-footed on a software audit can be a million-dollar-plus problem. Even seemingly unrelated events, like moving to a cloud-based solution, can have a cascade effect on existing software licenses, and not proactively recognizing that creates unnecessary risk. Similarly, the free open-source software tools and applications used to efficiently create new products may need to be re-licensed on paid commercial terms when transitioning to a distribution or SaaS deployment phase.

    • Why should we care about cutting and pasting open source code?

      It’s common for developers to want to give credit where credit is due. The problem with how this is commonly done is that often the original copyright and licence aren’t brought along with the snippet, and the developer may give credit in a flippant way using language such as “code stolen from xyz” or “shamelessly lifted from the Foo project”. While this language is taken badly by the legal team, it’s often a sign of the developer trying to carve out attribution for this copied code. It’s important to provide clear guidance on how to properly bring in code snippets for licensing and security review purposes. Preserving or adding the proper copyright and license information is important to remain in compliance. It’s also invaluable for future readers of the source code to understand who wrote what.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Tesla’s GPL compliance, a new open source AI from Tencent, and more
    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • An Ultrasound Driver With Open Source FPGAs

        Ultrasound imaging has been around for decades, but Open Source ultrasound has not. While there are a ton of projects out there attempting to create open ultrasound devices, most of this is concentrated on the image-processing side of things, and not the exceptionally difficult problem of pinging a sensor at millions of times a second, listening for the echo, and running that through a very high speed ADC.

        For his entry into the Hackaday Prize, [kelu124] is doing just that. He’s building an ultrasound board that’s built around Open Hardware, a fancy Open Source FPGA, and a lot of very difficult signal processing. It also uses some Rick and Morty references, so you know this is going to be popular with the Internet peanut gallery.

        The design of the ultrasound system is based around an iCE40 FPGA, the only FPGA with an Open Source toolchain. Along with this, there are a ton of ADCs, a DAC, pulsers, and a high voltage section to drive the off-the-shelf ultrasound head. If you’re wondering how this ultrasound board interfaces with the outside world, there’s a header for a Raspberry Pi on there, too, so this project has the requisite amount of blog cred.

  • Programming/Development

    • 11 Best Programming Fonts

      There are many posts and sites comparing fonts for programming and they are all amazing articles. So why I repeated the same subject here? Since I always found myself lost in dozens of fonts and could not finger out which one was best for me. So today I tried many fonts and picked up the following fonts for you. These fonts are pretty popular and easy to get. And most importantly, all these fonts are FREE!

    • New open-source web apps available for students and faculty

      Jupyter is an open source web environment for writing code and visualizing data. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly popular across a wide range of academic disciplines.

      [...]

      JupyterHub is a variation of the Jupyter project, which adds support for user account management and enterprise authentication. The TLT instance allows students and faculty to log in with their credentials for full access to their own Jupyter environment and provides direct access to their Penn State Access Account Storage Space (PASS). Using PASS for storage provided a large persistent storage space that students and faculty were already familiar with and was easily accessible from the local lab systems or their personal devices.

Leftovers

  • 5 questions for… the Mellel word processor
  • Yelp’s Newest Campaign: Asking Google To Do The Right Thing

    Back in 2014, we wrote about a campaign by Yelp which it called “Focus on the User,” in which it made a very compelling argument that Google was treating Yelp (and TripAdvisor) content unfairly. Without going into all of the details, Yelp’s main complaint was that while Google uses its famed relevance algorithm to determine which content to point you to in its main search results, when it came to the top “One Box” on Google’s site, it only used Google’s own content. Four years ago, the Focus on the User site presented compelling evidence that users of Google actually had a better overall experience if the answers for things like local content (such as retailer/restaurant reviews) in the One Box were ranked according to Google’s algorithm, rather than just using Google’s own “Local” content (or whatever they call it these days).

    [...]

    That said, while Yelp has shifted the focus of that particular site, it certainly has not not given up on asking the government to punish Google. Just as it was relaunching the site, it was also filing a new antitrust complaint in the EU and again, I’m still concerned about this approach. It’s one thing to argue that Google should handle aspects of how its website works in a better way. It’s another to have the government force the company to do it that way. The latter approach creates all sorts of potential consequences — intended or unintended — that could have far reaching reverberations on the internet, perhaps even the kind that would boomerang around and hurt Yelp as well.

    Yelp makes a strong argument for why Google’s approach to the One Box is bad and not the best overall results for its users. I’m glad that it’s repurposed its site to appeal to Google employees, and am disappointed that Google hasn’t made this entire issue go away by actually revamping how the One Box works. But calling on the government to step in and determine how Google should design its site is still a worrisome approach.

  • Science

    • A New History of Arabia, Written in Stone

      [...]

      Not all of them will be pleased by the way that new research rewrites old understandings. In traditional historiography and common lore, southern Arabia is believed to be the primeval homeland of the Arabs and the source of the purest Arabic. In this telling, Arabic was born deep in the peninsula and spread with the Islamic conquests; as it made contact with other languages, it gradually devolved into the many Arabic dialects spoken today. Classical Arabic remains the preëminent symbol of a unified Arab culture, and the ultimate marker of eloquence and learning. To Al-Jallad, the Safaitic inscriptions indicate that various ancient forms of Arabic were present many centuries before the rise of classical Arabic, in places such as Syria and Jordan. He argues that the language may have originated there and then migrated south—suggesting that the “corrupt” forms of Arabic spoken around the region may, in fact, have lineages older than classical Arabic. Macdonald told me, “His theory will inevitably meet a lot of opposition, mainly for non-academic reasons. But it’s becoming more and more convincing.”

    • Arizona Moves to Alter Wording About Evolution in Education

      Proposed changes to the state’s school science standards would emphasize that parts of the theory are “not proven.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Ingredients For WHO Roadmap On Access To Medicines At Civil Society Side Event

      On the side of this week’s World Health Assembly and hours before the Assembly agreed on preparing a roadmap on access to medicines, two civil society groups held an event on the same subject. The Brazilian ambassador, a senior official from the Netherlands, and a WHO assistant director general among others delivered their thoughts on the issue and the way forward. Key words were high prices, transparency, and trade flexibilities.

    • WHA Agrees On Recommendations To Reinvigorate Plan Of Action To Boost R&D, Access

      Ten years after the adoption of a World Health Organization plan of action meant to stimulate innovation for diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries, and with very little to show for it since, delegates at the World Health Assembly this week agreed to a number of recommendations to reinvigorate the effort. How to finance the implementation of those recommendations, however, is unclear.

    • Stay of injunction in public interest: Edwards Lifesciences v Boston

      In recent years, there have been several examples of patentees in the UK Courts opting not to enforce an injunction where the infringing product constitutes a potentially life-saving treatment.

      [...]

      Back in 2015, Edwards Lifesciences issued a revocation action for Boston’s EP (UK) 2 249 254 patent (the ’254). Boston counterclaimed for infringement of the ’254, and EP(UK) 2 926 766 patents, through dealings in a transcatheter heart valve (THV) called the Sapien 3 which had been launched by Edwards in Jan 2014.
      Expert and factual evidence showed that there are currently 7 THVs approved for use in the UK, and that the Sapien 3 represents about 60% of the market. For certain patient groups, the Sapien 3 is the only treatment option.

      The ’254 was found invalid in the High Court [2017] EWHC 755 (Pat), but the ’766 was held to be valid and infringed. Boston sought an injunction in the usual way, and Edwards resisted the grant of an injunction on the ground that there was a public interest in patients continuing to receive the Sapien 3.

      The Court at first instance granted an unqualified injunction but stayed the injunction pending appeal (for which permission was granted on both sides). An order was also made for the provision of disclosure to assist Boston in making its election regarding an account of profits or a damages enquiry. On 10 May 2018, Boston elected for an account of profits, and those issues are likely to be heard in June to July 2019.

    • WHA Agrees On Drafting Of Roadmap For Access To Medicines And Vaccines; US Blasts Compulsory Licences

      The World Health Assembly yesterday agreed on a roadmap to be designed by the World Health Organization in consultation with member states to facilitate access to medicines and vaccines, including actions and activities for the period 2019-2023. If everyone agrees access to medicines and vaccines is indispensable for universal health coverage, views are still divided when it comes to intellectual property rights. The ranks of strong proponents of IP resulting in high prices are however thinning. The United States remains unshakeable, criticising compulsory licences used by countries to ensure affordable medicines are available.

    • AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Inc. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2018)

      The District Court dismissed AFH’s declaratory judgment complaint on these grounds, that “encouraging others to produce generic TAF products in the future, and Healthcare’s interest in purchasing such products,” did not satisfy the “case or controversy” requirements for declaratory judgment relief. This appealed followed.

      The Federal Circuit affirmed, in a precedential opinion by Judge Newman joined by Judges Dyk and Stoll. The opinion notes at the outset the jurisdictional implications of AHF’s complaint, and that a court is without authority to render a judgment unless the jurisdictional requirements are satisfied (which is complainant’s burden to carry). The facts comprising this burden are that there is “injury-in-fact, [a] connection between the challenged conduct and the injury, and redressability by the requested remedy,” citing Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env’t, 523 U.S. 83, 103–04 (1998). The mere existence of a patent is not enough, without more, to establish these grounds.

      [...]

      The entirety of the Federal Circuit’s opinion reinforces the focus since MedImmune on the totality of the circumstances (rather than some bright line formula) as the proper measure of whether a declaratory judgment plaintiff has alleged sufficiently for a court to find declaratory judgment jurisdiction has been established. Using this approach, while lacking the consistency of a bright line rule appears robust enough to prevent expansion of declaratory judgment jurisdiction into the realm of permitting public or patient interest groups interested in promoting their agendas onto the patent and regulatory frameworks for innovator and generic drugs, regardless of any purported societal benefits these groups may assert in support of their efforts.

  • Security

    • « The Microsoft Cyber Attack » : a German Documentary from the ARD on Relations Between Microsoft and Public Administration Now Available in English

      On February 19th, 2018, the German public broadcaster (ARD) aired a documentary on Microsoft relations with public administrations. Part of the inquiry is about the Open Bar agreement between Microsoft and the French ministry of Defense, including interviews of French Senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, Leïla Miñano, a journalist, and Étienne Gonnu of April.

      The documentary is now available in English thanks to Deutsche Welle (DW), the German public international broadcaster, on its Youtube channel dedicated to documentaries : The Microsoft Cyber Attack. It should be noted that April considers itself as a Free software advocate, rather than open source, as the voice-over suggests.

    • Compliance is Not Synonymous With Security

      While the upcoming GDPR compliance deadline will mark an unprecedented milestone in security, it should also serve as a crucial reminder that compliance does not equal security. Along with the clear benefits to be gained from upholding the standards enforced by GDPR, PCI DSS, HIPAA, and other regulatory bodies often comes a shift toward a more compliance-centric security approach. But regardless of industry or regulatory body, achieving and maintaining compliance should never be the end goal of any security program. Here’s why:

    • Dialing up security for Docker containers

      Docker containers are a convenient way to run almost any service, but admins need to be aware of the need to address some important security issues.

      Container systems like Docker are a powerful tool for system administrators, but Docker poses some security issues you won’t face with a conventional virtual machine (VM) environment. For example, containers have direct access to directories such as /proc, /dev, or /sys, which increases the risk of intrusion. This article offers some tips on how you can enhance the security of your Docker environment.

    • VPNFilter UNIX Trojan – How to Remove It and Protect Your Network

      This article has been created to explain what exactly is the VPNFilter malware and how to secure your network against this massive infection by protecting your router as well as protecting your computers.

      A new malware, going by the name of VPNFilter has reportedly infected over 500 thousand router devices across most widely used brands such as Linksys, MikroTik, NETGEAR as well as TP-Link, mostly used in homes and offices. The cyber-sec researchers at Cisco Talos have reported that the threat is real and it is live, even thought the infected devices are under investigation at the moment. The malware reportedly has something to do with the BlackEnergy malware, which targeted multiple devices in Ukraine and Industrial Control Systems in the U.S.. If you want to learn more about the VPNFilter malware and learn how you can remove it from your network plus protect your network, we advise that you read this article.

    • FBI: Reboot Your Router Now To Fight Malware That Affected 500,000 Routers
    • FBI says Russians hacked [sic] hundreds of thousands of home and office routers

      The warning followed a court order Wednesday that allowed the FBI to seize a website that the hackers [sic] planned to use to give instructions to the routers. Though that cut off malicious communications, it still left the routers infected, and Friday’s warning was aimed at cleaning up those machines.

    • FBI tells router users to reboot now to kill malware infecting 500k devices

      Researchers from Cisco’s Talos security team first disclosed the existence of the malware on Wednesday. The detailed report said the malware infected more than 500,000 devices made by Linksys, Mikrotik, Netgear, QNAP, and TP-Link. Known as VPNFilter, the malware allowed attackers to collect communications, launch attacks on others, and permanently destroy the devices with a single command. The report said the malware was developed by hackers [sic] working for an advanced nation, possibly Russia, and advised users of affected router models to perform a factory reset, or at a minimum to reboot.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Thoughts on the Saudi-Israeli Connection

      Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his grand tour of the United States last month publicly declared in an interview with the Atlantic magazine that the Israelis “have a right to live in their own land just like the Palestinians.” It is a problematic assumption, given that the Israelis’ “own land” is the land they took away from the Palestinians. This, and much else, has been either forgotten or ignored by the Saudi crown prince.

      Seventy-three years ago Saudi Arabia’s first king, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, expressed a very different position in a series of letters to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. For instance in a letter of November 1938 Ibn Saud had wrote “The [European] Jews have no right to Palestine and their claim is an act of injustice unprecedented in the history of the human race.” Sadly, there was in fact plenty of precedent when it came to colonial injustice, but Ibn Saud’s declaration certainly demonstrated the King’s depth of feeling. Other letters followed, predicting that Palestine was bound to become a “hotbed of disturbances and troubles” if the Zionists got their way.

      [...]

      Now Crown Prince bin Salman shows us that a lot has changed in the intervening years. Zionist Israel has become an established “fact on the ground” and thus settler colonialism is well rooted in Palestine. Saudi Arabia has, perhaps begrudgingly, accepted this change – and it is not hard to see why.

      The Saudis have built their security around an alliance with Israel’s major backer, the United States. One price paid for that alliance has been a de facto acceptance of Israel’s existence. Thus, Saudi dislike of Israel has been largely rhetorical. However, it would seem that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has finally abandoned even that facade as well as abandoning the Palestinians. That is why during the prince’s recent trip to the U. S., he was found publicly rubbing shoulders with AIPAC.

    • Russian Military Supplied Missile That Shot Down Malaysian Jet, Prosecutors Say

      The missile belonged to an active duty unit in the Russian military, the 53rd Antiaircraft Brigade based in the city of Kursk, the prosecutors said. It was trucked from Russia to eastern Ukraine in July 2014, at a time when Russian-backed rebels were taking losses from Ukrainian airstrikes and artillery guided by airborne spotters.

    • South Korean President Moons Bolton

      Korea pretty much tell the story. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in drove into the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and Seoul quickly released a one-minute video of what, by all appearances, was an extremely warm encounter with Kim Jung-un. It amounted to a smiling, thumbing of two noses at Bolton and the rest of the “crazies” who follow his advice, such as Vice President Mike Pence who echoed Bolton’s insane evocation of the “Libya model” for North Korea, which caused Pyongyang to go ballistic. Their angry response was the reason Trump cited for cancelling the June 12 summit with Kim.

      But Trump almost immediately afterward began to waffle. At their meeting on Friday the two Korean leaders made it clear their main purpose was to make “the successful holding of the North Korea-U.S. Summit” happen. Moon is expected to announce the outcome of his talks with Kim Sunday morning (Korean time).

    • The Hit and Miss Record of U.S. Targeted Killing Programs

      The rationale behind the most controversial tactic in America’s global war on terrorism—targeted killing of “high value” individuals—goes back far in history, all the way to the Talmud: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.”

      Targeted killing has yet to be formally defined in international law, but the UN Security Council has proffered a sound definition: “The intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force, by states or their agents acting under color of law, or by an organized armed group in armed conflict, against a specific individual who is not in the physical custody of the perpetrator.”

      Only since the early 2000s has targeted killing (TK) emerged from the shadows of the “covert action” world to become a major policy issue for governments, human rights watch groups, international lawyers, and of course, the press. The first prominent TK operation in American history took place in 1943, when American fighter pilots took off from Guadalcanal with the express intention of shooting down an aircraft they knew to be transporting Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack. The mission was successful.

      [...]

      In July 2016 the Obama administration released an executive order outlining policies to minimize civilian casualties in such strikes, as well as figures for drone strikes outside of the active war zones, i.e., in Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and the tribal region of Pakistan. Between 2009 and mid-2016, 273 strikes had killed between 2,272 and 2,581 combatants and between 64 and 116 civilians. The civilian casualty figures were greeted with widespread skepticism by human rights groups and the press.

      [...]

      Even granting this distinction, many human rights groups and international law authorities see targeted killings as uncomfortably close to assassination, and they question the legality—and moral legitimacy—of the process by which the United States selects its targets. The lack of independent judicial oversight of a process managed exclusively by the executive branch, the DOD, and the CIA is a big problem for many critics. So is the lack of transparency about the process.

    • Bipartisan opposition nearly kills bill to allow police drone surveillance in Illinois
    • Cuban Exile & CIA Agent Luis Posada Carriles Dies a Free Man in U.S. Despite Years of Terrorism

      Former CIA operative and Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles died Wednesday just outside of Miami. He was 90 years old. Posada Carriles is best known as the suspected mastermind of the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airline jet. For decades, the U.S. refused to extradite Posada Carriles to face terrorism charges, despite demands by Cuba and Venezuela. Posada Carriles later publicly admitted ties to a series of hotel bombings in Cuba in 1997. In 2000, he was arrested in Panama City for plotting to blow up an auditorium where Fidel Castro would be speaking. Despite his record, Luis Posada Carriles died a free man in Florida. We get reaction from José Pertierra, a Cuban attorney based in Washington, D.C. He represented the Venezuelan government in its efforts to extradite Luis Posada Carriles, and also represented Elián González in 2000-2001.

    • Yemeni reprisal attacks: Drones target Saudi airport’ in Asir, flights canceled

      The Yemeni army says its military drones have bombarded a Saudi airport in the kingdom’s southwestern province of Asir for the second time in more than a month, forcing the authorities to suspend all flights to and from the regional airport.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Major Islamic financier singled out for deforestation in Indonesia

      In a recent report by climate coalition Chain Reaction Research, Lembaga Tabung Haji, whose publicly traded palm oil firm TH Plantations controls 32 estates in Indonesia and Malaysia spanning 1,600 square kilometers (620 square miles), was accused of actively clearing forest and peatland.

    • Greenpeace blasts palm oil industry deforestation in West Papua

      Satellite analysis suggests that around 4000ha of rainforest were cleared in PT Megakarya Jaya Raya concession between May 2015 and April 2017 – an area almost half the size of Paris.

    • This company promised to stop deforestation. But we caught them out.

      Here’s what we found: almost 8,000 ha of forest and peatland has been cleared in two concessions linked to APP and its parent company the Sinar Mas Group since 2013. We put these allegations to APP and Sinar Mas, but the group failed to provide a credible response or to take meaningful action.

    • NPS Report—Gasp!—Acknowledges Climate Change
    • After attempts at censorship, National Park Service finally releases climate change report

      Confederate cannon balls plunged into the brick walls of Fort Sumter at the outset of the Civil War, forcing Union troops to surrender. A century and a half later, surging storm waters are now the modern threat to the South Carolina national monument. Storm-swollen seas can flood the coastal garrison, at times forcing the National Park Service to shut it down.

      More than 100 National Park Service sites are located either on or near the coast. With global sea levels rising at an accelerating pace, spurred on by human-caused climate change, it’s more important than ever that the service understands how storm surges and rising seas will impact historical sites like Sumter.

      The conservation agency, however, lacked useful projections showing how these factors could inundate vulnerable lands, both in the near and distant future. So, when a visiting climate scientist, Maria Caffrey, proposed such a project, the Park Service accepted, and in 2013 the research began.

    • Uniti Electric Car Pre-Orders Reach $60 Million

      Uniti, the Swedish startup that is planning to build an all new electric car, claims pre-orders for the car have now reached $60 million. To all those auto industry executives out there who whine about people not wanting to buy EVs, Uniti is the wakeup call you have been dreading. People absolutely do want to buy electric cars, and if you don’t provide them with the vehicles they want, someone else will.

  • Finance

    • The trouble with charitable billionaires

      Meanwhile, inequality is growing, and both corporations and the wealthy find ways to avoid the taxes that the rest of us pay. In the name of generosity, we find a new form of corporate rule, refashioning another dimension of human endeavour in its own interests. Such is a society where CEOs are no longer content to do business; they must control public goods as well. In the end, while the Giving Pledge’s website may feature more and more smiling faces of smug-looking CEOs, the real story is of a world characterised by gross inequality that is getting worse year by year.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Musk, Media Stunts and Attention Economies That Don’t Give A Crap About The Egos Of Multi-Billionaires.

      Don’t get me wrong, I have no great love for the world’s crappy media ecosystems, which are almost unwaveringly — with a few notable exceptions — a shit-show, riddled with corruption, white old men in charge of editorial or ownership, vested interests, sneering hatred, malice, fakery, hot-takes, poor vetting, manipulation and click-bait egging on the next worst thing and the next and the next. And sure, from time to time, some over-worked under-paid journo pulls their finger out and publishes some real investigative journalism, but we’re seeing less and less of it these days. And most of the time, it’s behind paywalls.

      So what’s the point of Musk’s new venture into rating journalism anyway?

    • How You Help Trump

      Think about it: every time Trump issues a mean tweet or utters a shocking statement, millions of people begin to obsess over his words. Reporters make it the top headline. Cable TV panels talk about it for hours. Horrified Democrats and progressives share the stories online, making sure to repeat the nastiest statements in order to refute them. While this response is understandable, it works in favor of Trump.

    • Mueller probing Roger Stone’s finances: report

      Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating Roger Stone’s finances as part of the probe into alleged collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

      CNN reported Thursday that investigators have asked associates of Stone, an informal adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, about his finances, including Stone’s tax returns.

      Stone told CNN that investigators were apparently “combing through” his personal life, including business affairs, but claimed it was because they lacked evidence of collusion.

    • Senate panel advances Trump nominee who wouldn’t say if Brown v. Board of Education was decided correctly

      The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a judicial nominee who faced criticism for declining to say whether the Supreme Court correctly decided a landmark case that outlaw

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • EU censorship machines and link tax laws are nearing the finish line

      This week, people across the world are learning what they need to do to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will become applicable on Friday – and many are finding themselves wishing they had involved themselves in the debate when the law was decided more than two years ago. A wide public debate about its finer points is happening when it’s too late to make changes or ask for clarifications – a lost opportunity even for a law that I support.

      On the topic of copyright, you NOW have the chance to have an influence – a chance that will be long lost in two years, when we’ll all be “suddenly” faced with the challenge of having to implement upload filters and the “link tax” – or running into new limits on what we can do using the web services we rely on.

    • Georgian creative work ‘censorship bill’ comes under fire

      Georgia’s par­lia­ment is to discuss a con­tro­ver­sial bill which critics say will enable cen­sor­ship. The bill, initiated by MPs from the ruling Georgian Dream party, would allow the courts to ban the dis­tri­b­u­tion of creative works if they ‘violate others’ rights’. A number of local rights groups and the Public Defender have warned that law is too broad.

      The bill’s authors, Eka Beselia and Levan Gogichaishvili from parliament’s Legal Issues Committee said that the need for the leg­isla­tive amend­ments stems from the con­sti­tu­tion­al changes adopted earlier in the spring.

      An earlier version of the con­sti­tu­tion stated that pro­hibit­ing the dis­tri­b­u­tion of creative works was unlawful unless they ‘violated others’ rights’ but did not specify who could enforce this. The new amend­ments specified that such a ban could only be issued by the courts, which was widely seen as a positive change.

      [...]

      On 24 May, the Public Defender’s Office issued a statement describ­ing the bill as ‘incom­pat­i­ble with the Georgian con­sti­tu­tion’ and ‘restric­tive of creative freedom’

    • Journalists say police union attacks are having chilling effect on press freedom

      This statement was originally published on globalvoices.org on 23 May 2018. It is republished here under Creative Commons license CC-BY 3.0.

      In Tunisia, police are obligated to protect journalists not only because they are citizens, but also because attacks against journalists are a crime punishable by jail time. But when coverage has questioned the conduct of security institutions, law enforcement officials and their powerful unions have too often ignored duty and issued direct threats against media workers – both online and off.

      These attacks have largely gone unpunished. To further complicate the situation, a controversial draft law promoted by the interior ministry and the police unions would create a new layer of protection for security forces, shielding them from criticism and accountability mechanisms.

      “Some of these unions represent a serious threat to the rule of law, as they aim to establish a police supremacy over other citizens: full powers, complete freedom and total impunity,” journalist and radio commentator Haythem El Mekki told Global Voices in an email interview.

    • Twitter is treating Bulgarians tweeting in Cyrillic like Russian bots

      A week ago, Twitter announced it would become more aggressive in pursuing trolls on its service, a move which seems to have had some unforeseen consequences, judging by the present upheaval in the Bulgarian Twitter community. An increasingly large and unhappy number of people have had their Twitter accounts suspended and messages filtered out of conversations, apparently for the offense of merely tweeting in Cyrillic.

      Though the trigger for an account to be suspended hasn’t been specifically established, the prevailing hypothesis — based on users’ experience — appears to be that mentioning @YouTube or any other major account in Cyrillic will get one in trouble. Perversely, even if the initial tweeter isn’t affected, the chances of being suspended for anyone replying to such a tweet in Cyrillic are even higher. This problem has afflicted people with accounts dating all the way back to 2009, some of which have multiple thousands of followers. While I’ve been able to verify the experience primarily of Bulgarian users, this blight on Cyrillic Twitter use definitely appears to extend beyond just that community.

    • Spotify To Restore XXXTentacion Onto Playlists After Kendrick Lamar Threatened To Pull Music Amid Censorship
    • Spotify Plans to Change XXXTentacion Policy After Outcry
    • Artists Strike Back At Spotify After Its Censorship Policy & The Streaming Service Is Backing Down
    • Kendrick Lamar Apparently Threatened To Pull Music From Spotify Following Censorship
    • Donald Trump Jr. Alleges Instagram’s Complicity in Conservative Censorship
    • ‘Are you fricken kidding me?’: Don Jr cries censorship on Instagram after his new follower numbers collapse
    • Donald Trump Jr. Calls Out Masters of the Universe, Claims Instagram Censorship
    • GOP Chair Slams Facebook and Twitter for Censoring Conservatives, They’re the “Silicon Valley Thought Police”
    • GOP Officials Demand Facebook And Twitter Respond To Content Censorship Allegations
    • RNC chair was asked to prove Facebook censors conservatives. It didn’t go well.

      During a Friday interview on Fox News, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel was asked to provide evidence that Facebook is censoring conservative voices. She made her case by citing a hoax.

      “Just for the audience — state the evidence as to why you think there is bias on these platforms,” host Bill Hemmer asked McDaniel, who this week co-authored a letter to social media companies claiming that “rampant political bias” has resulted in conservatives being censored.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Ad Blocker Ghostery Celebrates GDPR Day by Revealing Hundreds of User Email Addresses

      Ad-blocking tool Ghostery suffered from a pretty impressive, self-inflicted screwup Friday when the privacy-minded company accidentally CCed hundreds of its users in an email, revealing their addresses to all recipients.

      Fittingly, the inadvertent data exposure came in the form of an email updating Ghostery users about the company’s data collection policies. The ad blocker was sending out the message to affirm its commitment to user privacy as the European Union’s digital privacy law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), goes into effect.

      The email arrived in inboxes with the subject line “Happy GDPR Day — We’ve got you covered!” In the body of the email, the company informed users, “We at Ghostery hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to users’ privacy, and have implemented measures to reinforce security and ensure compliance with all aspects of this new legislation.”

      What Ghostery likely didn’t intend to do was immediately expose all of its users. CCed to the email were hundreds of other recipients, their emails all readily viewable to others receiving the message. Ghostery users took to social media to complain about the exposure.

    • The GDPR: Ghastly, Dumb, Paralyzing Regulation It’s Hard To Celebrate

      Happy GDPR day! At least if you can manage to be happy about a cumbersome, punitive, unprecedentedly extraterritorial legal regime that hijacks the resources of businesses everywhere without actually delivering privacy protection commensurate with the enormous toll attempts to comply with it extract. It’s a regulatory response due significant criticism, including for how it poorly advances the important policy goals purportedly prompting it.

      In terms of policy goals, there’s no quarrel that user privacy is important. And it’s not controversial to say that many providers of digital products and services to date may have been… let’s just say, insufficiently attentive to how those products and services handled user privacy. Data-handling is an important design consideration that should always be given serious attention. To the extent the GDPR encourages this sort of “privacy by design,” it is something to praise.

    • Did Michigan just block the NSA?

      Michigan has just passed a landmark law that prohibits passing residents’ personal information over to federal authorities without a warrant. The legislation has been interpreted as a protest against the National Security Agency and has effectively tried to ban NSA privacy invasions.

      [...]

      As of June, Michigan may only provide personal data to federal agencies if they can present a warrant based upon probable cause, unless there is a legally recognized exception, if the target has given informed consent, and if it does not infringe on any reasonable expectation of privacy the person may have.

      Howrylak said in a statement that, “This reform safeguards the fundamental rights of all Michigan residents, who are guaranteed protection of their property and privacy rights by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” He continued:

    • Amazon confirms that Echo device secretly shared user’s private audio [Updated]

      Amazon did not explain how so many spoken Alexa prompts could have gone unnoticed by the Echo owner in question. Second update: The company did confirm to Ars that the above explanation was sourced from device logs.

    • US news outlets shut out European users amid new privacy laws
    • U.S. News Outlets Block European Readers Over New Privacy Rules

      American news outlets including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and The Arizona Daily Star abruptly blocked access to their websites from Europe on Friday, choosing to black out readers rather than comply with a strict new data privacy law in the European Union that limits what information can be collected about people online.

    • GDPR finally comes into effect, applying fully to all businesses operating in EU

      GDPR replaces the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive, and it means all organisations operating in the EU have to abide by its new rules. Importantly, organisations outside the EU, like US-based companies that target consumers in the EU, monitor EU citizens or offer goods or services to EU consumers (even if for free), also have to comply.

    • Facebook and Google hit with $8.8 billion in lawsuits on day one of GDPR

      On the first day of GDPR enforcement, Facebook and Google have been hit with a raft of lawsuits accusing the companies of coercing users into sharing personal data. The lawsuits, which seek to fine Facebook 3.9 billion and Google 3.7 billion euro (roughly $8.8 billion in dollars), were filed by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, a longtime critic of the companies’ data collection practices.

    • Everything you need to know about GDPR

      The General Data Protection Regulation is a rule passed by the European Union in 2016, setting new rules for how companies manage and share personal data. In theory, the GDPR only applies to EU citizens’ data, but the global nature of the internet means that nearly every online service is affected, and the regulation has already resulted in significant changes for US users as companies scramble to adapt.

    • How to solve all your GDPR problems in one simple step

      To spare the blushes of its author I will say only that it was from an organisation offering reiki massage in a south London suburb. Despite the fact I have never had a reiki massage, never sought a reiki massage, and it is a suburb I have visited only twice in my entire life, once for a funeral and once to get drunk.

      I am pretty certain that on neither occasion did I hand my email address to anybody offering hands-on spiritual stress relief, not least because I think any activity described as “holistic” is total bollocks.

    • Former CIA analyst says New Zealand should be kicked out of Five Eyes alliance

      A United States Congress hearing has been told New Zealand politicians are receiving “major” donations from China, with one former CIA analyst suggesting we be kicked out of the Five Eyes alliance.

      Senator James Talent alleged at the hearing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has “gotten very close to or inside the political core” of both New Zealand and Australia. He claimed he’s heard allegations of “Beijing-linked political donors buying access and influence with party politicians” to incentivise the country to “parrot its line on issues it deems important”.

      “It’s important for the United States to consider that China may be testing methods of interference to probe for weaknesses in democracies in order to use the same techniques against Western countries in the future.”

    • Amazon Alexa Instantaneously Justifies Years Of Surveillance Paranoia

      I’ll admit that I traditionally haven’t been as paranoid as many people in regards to the surveillance powers of digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. Yes, putting an always-on microphone in your home likely provides a wonderful new target for intelligence agencies and intruders to spy on you. That said, it’s not like a universe of internet of broken things or smart TVs aren’t doing the same thing, before you even get to the problem with lax to nonexistent privacy standards governing the smartphone currently listening quietly in your pocket and tracking your every location.

      That said, nobody should ever labor under the false impression that good opsec involves leaving always on, internet-connected microphones sitting everywhere around your house.

    • Facebook suggests Europeans won’t be compensated for data fiasco

      This idea of royalty payouts for data use has floated around for a bit, given the billions that Facebook makes selling ads based on the data you provide via your profile and browsing history. When we asked a law school professor about how this type of payout would work, we were told, in so many words, it wouldn’t.

    • Pornhub has its own VPN now

      Pornhub is diversifying. The most popular site that no one you know will admit to frequenting, is launching its very own VPN service today, called, get this: VPNHub. The app, which is available on Android, iOS, MacOS and Windows, is primarily designed to offer “free and unlimited bandwidth,” according to its creators.

    • Pornhub made a VPN

      Pornhub’s parent, Mindgeek, does not have a great reputation for security. A 2012 breach of subsidiary sites YouPorn and Digital Playground exposed the details of more than 1.1 million users. In 2016, Brazzers’ forum was hacked, with 800,000 members being outed. In 2017, Pornhub unwittingly hosted a malvertising attack that was in operation for more than a year.

    • WhatsApp and Facebook are sharing user data after all and it’s legal

      In simple terms – although the companies can’t merge their databases, they can integrate products and if you choose to do that, information gets passed on. If it gets passed on, that data is bound by their security and privacy policies – and it’s not WhatsApp’s fault if they misuse it – after all – you’ve effectively given permission.

    • Instapaper is latest big name site to close (for now) over GDPR

      The company is shutting down EU access from today, but has pledged to return once it has had time to comply with the new arrangements. The news was broken last night by tech writer Owen Williams who tweeted:

    • Zuckerberg set up fraudulent scheme to ‘weaponise’ data, court case alleges

      A company suing Facebook in a California court claims the social network’s chief executive “weaponised” the ability to access data from any user’s network of friends – the feature at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

      A legal motion filed last week in the superior court of San Mateo draws upon extensive confidential emails and messages between Facebook senior executives including Mark Zuckerberg. He is named individually in the case and, it is claimed, had personal oversight of the scheme.

    • PornHub launches VPN to keep users’ browsing activity safe from prying eyes

      The Pornhub owned-and-operated VPN launched on Thursday and is said to keep your browsing activity free from the prying eyes of snoopers by offering “free and unlimited bandwidth” on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OS.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Uber wants to test driverless cars in Pittsburgh again—the mayor is pissed

      Uber announced on Wednesday that it was permanently shutting down self-driving car testing in Arizona, laying off hundreds of workers in the state. The decision comes two months after an Uber self-driving car killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe. But the company insisted that it wasn’t shutting down its self-driving car program as a whole. In an internal email obtained by Ars Technica, Uber said that it had a “goal of resuming operations in Pittsburgh this summer.”

      Hours later, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto released a press release blasting the plan.

    • Uber self-driving car ‘saw woman but didn’t brake before crash’
    • Uber’s Self-Driving Car Saw the Woman It Killed, Report Says

      The National Transportation Safety Board won’t determine the cause of the crash or issue safety recommendations to stop others from happening until it releases its final report, but this first look makes two things clear: Engineering a car that drives itself is very hard. And any self-driving car developer that is relying on a human operator to monitor its testing systems—to keep everyone on the road safe—should be extraordinarily careful about the design of that system.

    • Uber self-driving car ‘saw woman but didn’t brake before crash’

      An autonomous Uber car spotted a pedestrian about six seconds before fatally hitting her but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled, US federal investigators said.

    • Inside The “New” Starbucks: Blood-Spattered Walls, Workers Pricked By Needles And More

      According to foodservice research firm Tachomic Inc., bathroom cleanliness is among the top factors for consumers choosing whether or not to use a restaurant. In their most recent quarterly ranking of fast-food customers, Starbucks ranked 20th in terms of bathroom cleanliness. Let’s see how they rank next quarter.

    • Trump Nominates Anti-Immigrant Zealot to Run Department on Refugees

      Senators should question Mortensen about his extreme hostility towards immigrants before voting on his appointment.

      This week, President Trump announced that he has nominated Ronald Mortensen to be the assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration, a move that further cements Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant agenda.

      Mortensen must be confirmed by the Senate to oversee the State Department’s bureau to protect refugees, victims of conflict, and some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

      Yet Mortensen’s record directly undermines the bureau’s core mission. Senators should be alarmed by Mortensen’s fiercely xenophobic rhetoric and long history of undermining the rights of refugees and immigrants.

      He founded the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration and serves as a senior fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which is notorious for peddling dubious research on the supposed harms caused by immigrants. The CIS has supported Trump’s attacks on refugees and said that the government should prioritize non-Muslim refugees. Trump adviser Stephen Miller even cited a discredited CIS study to defend the administration’s Muslim ban. One CIS official backed a plan resembling “modern-day slave labor” to make incarcerated people build Trump’s southern border wall.

    • The House Could Soon Give Jeff Sessions’ $50 Million to Wage the War on Drugs

      The continued congressional rubber-stamping of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program must stop, especially under Sessions.

      While the House was busy passing the divisive “empty gesture” known as the Protect and Serve Act during Police Week, the Senate took up a bill that Attorney General Jeff Sessions describes as “the centerpiece of our crime reduction strategy.” This bill, which the Senate unanimously passed and the House could take up in the next two weeks, authorizes the Project Safe Neighborhoods grant program. This program gives more federal dollars and resources for “a nationwide law enforcement program focused on the reduction of violent crime.”

      Project Safe Neighborhoods has been around since 2001, and in that time, about $2 billion has been spent encouraging federal-local partnerships around “reducing gun violence in the United States.” Some of those partnerships, like Boston’s Operation Ceasefire, have been characterized as holistic, using a law enforcement and social services approach to reduce violence. Others, like Richmond’s Project Exile, have been described as punitive and exclusively enforcement focused.

      In the almost two decades that PSN has been around, it has received little fanfare or question. PSN has been overwhelmingly supported by past administrations and congresses, but this continued rubber-stamping must end, especially with this attorney general, who is focused on making mass incarceration worse.

      “The war on crime and drugs did not fail. It was roaring success,” Sessions has said. So why is a Congress focused on bipartisan criminal justice reform fueling Session’s drug war?

    • Bipartisan opposition nearly kills bill to allow police drone surveillance in Illinois
    • James Clapper Just Lied Again About His Previous Lies About NSA Spying
    • Columnist’s justifications for CIA’s Haspel fall short
    • Ontario NDP candidate embroiled over blowing up ‘gun nuts’ comment

      Etobicoke Centre NDP candidate Erica Kelly, who posted that she would not be sad if “gun nuts” were blown up by a drone, has now apologized for the comment.

      “I know this is horrible to say… but I would not be sad to see these gun nuts threatening civil war have their asses blown to f–k with a drone,” Kelly said. “I mean, really, if only just to see their ‘tyranical government’ 2nd amendment argument blown to smithereens.”

    • Opinion: How America and Canada are diverging on the sad legacy of torture

      Canada recently apologized and gave $10 million to a Canadian tortured by Americans. Meanwhile, the United States just promoted someone who oversaw torture to the post of CIA director.

      The political contrast between the Canadian and American approaches is jarring. The differences owe a lot to stronger protections in Canadian law.

      In 2002, Gina Haspel ran a CIA black site in Thailand where at least one detainee was tortured with waterboarding, which is a way to make someone feel like they are drowning without killing them. In 2005, shortly after a Senate investigation into torture began, Haspel executed (and reportedly advocated for) an order to destroy recordings of the interrogations.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Nike Sues Puma for Alleged Infringement of Footwear Patents

      On Thursday, May 3rd, Beaverton, OR-based sneaker and athletic apparel maker Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE) filed a suit alleging claims of patent infringement against German footwear maker Puma (ETR:PUM) in the District of Massachusetts. In its complaint, Nike accuses Puma of infringing upon patents held by Nike which cover elements of Nike’s Flyknit, Air and cleat assembly technologies.

    • Copyrights

      • EU Governments Reach Negotiating Stance On Copyright Reform

        European Union member states today reportedly agreed on their negotiating position on the proposed copyright directive, and early reactions are unenthusiastic.

      • Fully-Loaded Kodi Box Sellers Receive Hefty Jail Sentences

        A court in Wales has handed hefty jail sentences to former partners who ran a business selling fully-loaded Kodi boxes. Michael Jarman and Natalie Forber, who sold more than 1,000 devices over a two year period, pleaded guilty to operating a fraudulent business. Jarmain was jailed for 21 months while Forber, who had no previous convictions, was handed a 16-month suspended sentence.

      • Legal Blackmail: Zero Cases Brought Against Alleged Pirates in Sweden

        Since 2017, tens of thousands of alleged file-sharers in Sweden have received threatening letters demanding cash settlements to make a supposed lawsuit go away. Yet an investigation carried out by Sweden’s SVT has failed to unearth a single instance where a claim has resulted in a conviction for so-called copyright trolls. “Legal blackmail,” says a professor of law at Stockholm University.

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